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After Easter

By Mike Ruffin Last Sunday was Easter Sunday, so we are now past Easter. Or are we? I took the Monday after Easter Sunday off during the last few years I served as a pastor. Holy Week really took it out of me, as I imagine it does most pastors. As we moved from Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, through the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, to the crucifixion on Good Friday, and on to the resurrection on Easter Sunday, I’d go through a broad range of emotions that left me drained. Spent as I was, there was no point in working on Monday. So I’d stay home and read a book. But Sunday was coming (again), so I’d get back to work on Tuesday. The Sunday after Easter Sunday is traditionally known as Low Sunday, probably because worship was more subdued. But we preachers think of it as Low Sunday because worship attendance, compared to the high of Easter Sunday, will be low. (At this point, I’d like to insert a Public Service Announcement: churches have services every other Sunday of the year, including the Sunday after Easter. A pastor I knew would say at the close of Easter Sunday worship, ‘I’d like to say ‘˜Merry Christmas’ to those of you I won’t see again until then.’ I would of course never say such a thing!) Easter actually lasts for quite a long time. According to the Christian calendar, the Season of Easter is 50 days long. Sometimes called ‘Eastertide,’ it begins on Easter Sunday and continues through Pentecost Sunday, when the church celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit. So this year the Easter Season lasts from April 1 until May 20. There are seven Sundays of Easter, the last one being the Sunday before Pentecost. Ah, but there’s even more Easter! That’s because every Sunday is a ‘Little Easter.’ Most churches worship on Sunday because that is the day God raised Jesus from the dead. Back when I was planning worship services, I’d open each worship service by declaring, ‘Christ the Lord is risen!’ to which the congregation would respond, ‘Christ the Lord is risen indeed!’ I thought it important that we remind ourselves every Sunday of why we were there. Really, though, it’s Easter all the time. That’s why we say, ‘Christ the Lord is risen!’ He was raised two millennia ago, but he is still risen, and he always will be. So those who serve a risen Savior serve him all the time. How does serving a risen Savior affect how we live? Maybe the main way is that it gives us hope. The resurrection of Jesus tells us that death doesn’t have the final word. Some folks live as if this means they just need to endure this miserable world until they can escape it. No doubt heaven will be worth whatever we go through on our way. But resurrection hope can be applied here and now. We need to ask: into what situations can we bring hope? How can we offer hope to people in despair? How can we shine light into the darkness? If I were still planning worship, I think I’d still say, ‘Christ the Lord is risen!’ and have the people respond, ‘Christ the Lord is risen indeed!’ but then I’d have us all say together, ‘So never, ever stop trying to help make things better!’ After all, we live every second of our lives in light of Easter. Mike Ruffin is a Barnesville native and graduate of Lamar County High School. He and his wife Debra live on the Ruffin Family Farm in Yatesville. He is the Connections Curriculum Editor with Smyth & Helwys Publishing in Macon and Interim Pastor of The Rock Baptist Church. His latest book, Luke: Parables for the Journey, is available at helwys.com and online booksellers.

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